BevNET Live: New Views on Retailing and Investment from Life Time Fitness and BrandProject

In programming that will focus on the needs of small and unique companies, BevNET Live attendees will hear about selling their products in one of the world’s fastest-growing fitness innovators, as well as from an investor focused on helping small companies succeed through early intervention during the program, which will take place in Santa Monica on Dec. 9 and 10.

Speaking will be Beatrice Foster, the Senior Retail Category Manager for Life Time – The Healthy Way of Life Company – a $1.1 billion lifestyle and fitness company best known for its more than 100 LifeTime Fitness gyms and its ownership of high-profile fitness events including triathlons, bicycle races and foot races. Tasked with purchasing products for the LifeCafe, LifeSpa and LifeShop businesses. Foster spearheaded a major transformation of LifeCafe retail offerings in late 2011, dramatically changing the company’s retail offerings with Life Time’s Good Food Rules commitment: No artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors, preservatives, trans-fats, or bleached flour.

Foster will be speaking with BevNET Live attendees about how she chooses beverages for the stores, and how brands with complicated back stories can provide the right kind of information to retailers to help turn them into brand advocates. Additionally, she will help attendees understand the visibility strategy that can come from being sold in a place like LifeTime – a fitness brand and lifestyle company that has been likened to the Whole Foods of exercise – and how it can help provide leverage for growing entrepreneurial brands.

Andrew Black, founder and CEO, BrandProject

Also speaking will be Andrew Black, the founder and CEO of BrandProject, a unique investment fund and brand development company. Black’s thesis is that investing in companies in their first year is a kind of “co-creation” strategy that allows them to use the experience and skill native to the fund, as well as the investment cash, as a way to create early safeguards against failure and to allow small-revenue companies to expand with less risk. By adding money and experience early on, the brands make fewer errors as they scale.

During his talk, Black, who said he is interested in investing in at least one beverage brand per year over the next few years, will explain not just BrandProject’s priorities but also offer insights from gained from having launched more than 100 different products and services, including Food and Beverage, Toys, and Communications. Regardless of investment, Black’s observations concerning what early-stage food and beverage companies can do to maximize their chances for success during their earliest days will provide huge value for the BevNET Live audience.

About Beatrice Foster and Life Time – The Healthy Way of Life Company

Beatrice Foster serves as Sr. Retail Category Manager for Life Time – The Healthy Way of Life Company. Since joining the Company in June 2006, Foster’s role has expanded across the LifeCafe, LifeSpa and LifeShop business units. Foster’s responsibilities have included Business Planning and Development, Visual Merchandising Programs, Strategic Partnership Development, Space Planning, Team Member Trainings, and Strategic Branding Campaign Development.

During Foster’s tenure, Life Time has grown from $512 million in revenue (2006) to $1.13 billion (2012) and from 46 Life Time centers in 9 states to 108 in 23 states, one Canadian province, and 29 major markets.

Foster spearheaded a major transformation of LifeCafe retail offerings in late 2011. The landscape of retail offerings was changed dramatically. Now, the only products sold in LifeCafe are those that align with Life Time’s Good Food Rules commitment: NO artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors, preservatives, trans fats, or bleached flour.

Prior to Life Time, Foster has occupied roles in retail apparel buying, health club management, visual merchandising management, and retail store management. Foster is a Minnesota native and currently resides in Minneapolis. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from The University of Iowa.

Today, as the Healthy Way of Life Company, Life Time helps organizations, communities and individuals to achieve total health objectives, athletic aspirations and fitness goals by engaging in their areas of interest – or discovering new passions – both inside and outside of Life Time’s distinctive and large sports, professional fitness, family recreation destinations, most of which operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Company’s Healthy Way of Life approach enables customers to achieve this by providing the best places, people and programs of uncompromising quality and value.

Additionally, through Life Time Fitness’ development of nutritional products, the award-winning healthy lifestyle magazine, Experience Life, world-class athletic events, full-service spas and cafes, personal training consultation, health and nutrition education, and corporate health programs, Life Time has not simply created a “health club” or “gym” chain, but rather, a comprehensive, Healthy Way of Life Company. This brand continues to have a significant impact on the health and wellness of consumers. Life Time Fitness (NYSE: LTM) is headquartered in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

About Andrew Black and BrandProject

Andrew Black has a wealth of experience helping to build some of the world’s leading consumer products and consumer technology companies. His expertise spans six different industries and includes building and transforming businesses in highly competitive markets. Black has launched over 100 new products and services for global icons including Nike, Virgin, LEGO, Cadbury Schweppes, and Colgate Palmolive.
Black has strong operational and leadership experience, having been President Americas at LEGO, General Manager for the US Equipment Business at Nike Inc., and VP Marketing-North America at Cadbury Schweppes/Dr Pepper 7-UP.

In 2004, Black followed his passion for starting disruptive new businesses and founded Virgin Mobile Canada with Sir Richard Branson. He and his team grew the Virgin business to over 1 million customers and $300M in revenues within five years, while winning the JD Power Award for customer service every year. Virgin Mobile was acquired by Bell Canada in 2009.

Black is now Founder & CEO of BrandProject LP, a brand creation company with the mission of helping visionary entrepreneurs build disruptive consumer brands that transform their markets. BrandProject partners with founders to co-create new companies, and also works with $1M to $10M revenue businesses to accelerate their growth.

BrandProject provides both consumer business building expertise and investment equity to all its partner companies. BrandProject’s portfolio of consumer brands includes Pushlife (acquired by Google), Virgin Gaming (acquired by Difference Capital), Rumble Protein Supershake, Awake Caffeinated Chocolate, Hello (Natural Oral Care), The Coveteur, BRIKA, and Surf Easy.

Black is a graduate of Queen’s University with a Bachelor in Economics. He also is a Board Member of Free The Children and Virgin Unite, and is a mentor at Next 36 and Extreme Start Ups. Andrew, his wife, and four daughters live in Toronto.